When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one to renounce its former allegiances, and become a citizen of another Republic, one needs to be extremely thankful if that Republic is the United States of America.
A few years ago we became citizens of this United States of America and declared the will to support and defend its Constitution. Today, we give thanks to you and its other citizens, living and long dead, for being able to join this shining city on a hill, this beacon of light in a dark world.
Over twelve years ago, in what feels like a lifetime ago, my wife and I, with a baby on our arms, arrived at this unfamiliar paradise. We were looking for a free land, with free people, free markets and free minds. That day we chose Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Since then, we have been lucky to call this blessed land home, and to travel extensively throughout it. We have worked hard to earn our place here and have been warmly welcomed by its big hearted and generous people.
We have slept peacefully knowing no secret police will come in to get us in the middle of the night. We have eaten without a worry, with the security of knowing there will be a plentiful bounty in supermarkets the next day.
We have toiled never ending nights in the high-rises of its financial districts and in the infinite loops of its office parks. We have studied hard to learn its culture and history. We have lived its values and principles, as we hoped to gain the respect among equals with all citizens.
We have enjoyed its extensive natural beauty, its glorious National Parks, and have camped many peaceful nights under the Northern Hemisphere stars.
We have rafted down the Arkansas and the Colorado, canoed down the Kennebec and the Hillsborough. We have swum in its beautiful Atlantic beaches, in the crystalline waters of Hawaii, in the peaceful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We have enjoyed endless summers in the warm lakes of Georgia and the frigid ones of Maine, in the rivers of southern Utah and the creeks of Colorado’s Piedmont.
We have hiked up the Rockies and the Blue Mountains, up The Sierra Nevada and the Appalachians. We have hiked down the Grand Canyon. We’ve been awestruck by the beautiful massive granites of Yosemite and Zion, by the millennia of erosion at Bryce.
We’ve listened to its moving Rock and Roll in Austin and Nashville, to its sad blues in New Orleans and to the fun Jimmy Buffett in the Keys.
We have stood transfixed in front of an old garage in Palo Alto, stood captivated under the shade of a redwood tree overlooking a long row of Nobel Laureate parking signs in Berkeley. We’ve been left relatively without words in front of an unmarked office door at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton.
We have stood silent in front of a marble giant at his memorial by the Tidal Basin. We have cried and hugged our kids while navigating in front of the giant lady on the Hudson.
We have learned the Gettysburg Address by heart and, as it was altogether fitting and proper, recited it at the talent show of our annual camping trip.
We’ve been lucky to have walked the halls of the most powerful white house in the world and sat down for a session in that house of the people on Capitol Hill.
We have, together with our kids, worked in shelters for the people that don’t have anything, prepared meals for the hungry, and cleaned and painted houses for those that can’t do it for themselves.
We have paid our taxes, always too much and never enough. We have voiced our opinion to our mayors, representatives, and senators, with the freedom of knowing we won’t be discriminated against nor become pariahs because of it.
We have stood in awe on a fresh spring evening, looking up at the red glare of massive rockets shooting for the stars from Cape Canaveral. We have cheered our teams and saluted our heroes.
Our story is quintessentially American. We’ve worked hard to go, unashamedly, from a cubicle in the basement to the proverbial corner office at the top. We have broken bread with Nobel Prize winners, with Academy Award winners and with Fortune 500 heads. We have truly lived the American Dream.
We love this land of opportunity so much; we left our families and friends back where we came from. We miss them so much. But we have also made new friends, and those friends have become a new family.
We are now part of the 300 million luckiest people to ever live on this Earth. E Pluribus Unum. We joined this Republic because, yes Mr. Franklin, we believe we can keep it.
So, to you my fellow American, we devotedly say thank you.